Donington Park July 29th 2001

This event was organsied by AutoItalia who say:

"Auto Italia magazine is delighted to announce that we have booked Donington Park circuit for a track day on Sunday July 29th. The programme of events will include generous track time, demonstrations of special cars, passenger rides in competition cars and classic car parades. Additional attractions will include club displays and special activities on the Melbourne Loop. Discounted entrance has also been arranged for visitors to enjoy the Donington Grand Prix collection. The opportunity to drive your car at speed on the circuit has been limited to 100 cars and, at a very reasonable £135, early booking is essential to avoid disappointment. Passenger rides are being offered in full-race Alfa Romeos driven by experienced competition licence holders at near race speeds. This chance of a lifetime for just 50 readers is being offered at £35 for five thrilling laps. For those not wishing to over stress their cars or themselves a session has been reserved for the pleasure of driving on a Grand Prix circuit for five laps at £20 per car including one passenger. "

George Roberts attended but unfortunately his Turbo Tipo was not ready in time. I attended in my Seat Ibiza. Alexis Grant, Ian Cull, Richard Ellingham, Ian Grist and Martin Hodges arrived in Tipos. Martin, Alexis and myself camped overnight in a caravan site to get an early start on the Sunday which was quite good fun. Alexis took his Tipo on the track. From a drivers perspective he says:

Since this was a first trackday for myself, I was a bit nervous about doing this, after the general comments from John and Martin saying try to avoid the gravel trap, this didn't exactly fill me with a lot of confidence!!!!

The briefing was as it meant, very brief! They only told us to overtake on the right and don't overtake on the corners, which people didn't seem to take too much notice of.

Entering onto the track for the first time, I had a lot of thoughts running through my mind as what to do, whats gonna happen if I do go off, should I go slow for the first session to get used to the track etc..... as soon as I headed onto the track all these thoughts went out the window and proceeded to zip round the track, until i discover what brake fade is about (NB if you do a trackday, get uprated pads and discs!!!!) and had to use the clutch and gearbox to help brake into the corners.

The first session was a great buzz, but the corners weren't taken with great speed, on the second session this started to progress as I started learning how the track behaved, i.e. which way the track cambers off to, how hard to turn into the corner and how fast I should be entering the corners, needless to say every corner resulted in tyre squeeling. The second session admitily was the only session I came off the track, but with good reason too, we were heading down Starkeys Stright when a Pug 106 XSi (race prepared) thought he would try and overtake me at Goddards, not a clever idea, when (1) we were told not to overtake on the corner and (2) I had brake fade, so I entered the corner too fast and too quick, meaning I managed to turn right, but wouldn't make the left turn, so I ventured across the grass, needless to say the pugeout hit the dirt as well. Same thing happened again with a Ferrari 345 spider, but didn't result in anyone coming off, but myself getting very angry with him!!!!!

As the sessions went on, my confidence grew more and more gaining better ability at the corners. On the 6th and last session I overtook 5 cars, Alfa GTV 2.5 V6 (old shape), Fiat Strata 130TC, Fiat Coupe 16v turbo (yes turbo!) Alfa 75 (tuned to 200bhp apparently!) and a Lancia Delta HF Turbo. I was chuffed.

Overall it was a great day and is certainly something I would consider doing again, apart from the £30 worth or petrol wasted and 2 litres of oil used.

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